If December is anything to go by then this summer is shaping up to be a hot one! One of the most important things for our health is staying hydrated and in the summer months this is more important than ever. Water is essential to most bodily functions and as the body has no way to store water it needs a fresh supply everyday.
How will you know if you are becoming dehydrated? Well, some of the common symptoms of dehydration include a dry mouth, thirst, headaches and tiredness. By the time you start to feel thirsty your nerves & muscles are already compromised. If you are unsure if your headaches are hydration related make sure to ask your osteopath.
So how much water is enough?? It seems like a simple question but there is no simple answer. The fact is your water needs depend on many factors, including your health, how active you are and the climate where you live. Knowing your body’s needs will help you estimate how much water you need to drink. Keep in mind we replenish water through beverages and foods that contain water, as well as drinking water itself. Medically speaking, the average, healthy adult living in a temperate climate needs roughly 13 cups (3 litres) of total beverages for men and about 9 cups (2.2 litres) of total beverages for women. Don’t fret my friends, this includes the fluid we get from milk, juice, coffee and tea – but water is still your best option as it is calorie free and low cost. We also get approximately 20 percent of our fluid from food – for example foods such as watermelon and lettuce are up to 90 percent water.
Depending on your individual needs, you may need to modify your fluid intake. Exercise, or for that matter any active that makes you sweat, requires you to drink extra water to compensate for the fluid loss. How much additional water you need depends on how much you sweat during exercise, the type of exercise you are doing and how long you are doing it for.
Long hot summer days can make you sweat more and also require an increased fluid intake. The same goes for days when the humidity is high. We all know to slip, slop, slap and now need to add sip (on water) to that.
Dehydration can also be a problem when we are sick – particularly when you have a fever, vomiting or diarrhoea. Urinary tract or bladder infections and constipation are other times when you need to increase your fluid intake. (Always conduct a doctor if you’re feeling unwell).
Women that are pregnant or breastfeeding, elderly people and children all need to be aware of their hydration needs and should consult a health professional for advice if required.
Some easy ways to increase you water intake include:
- Carrying a water bottle with you, particularly on warm days or when planning to exercise. Keep it handy – on your desk or in your bag and remember to sip on it throughout the day.
- Add fruit to flavour your water – lime, lemon &/or orange slices work well as does mint or watermelon and strawberries.
- Add flavoured ice cube – freeze pureed fruit (pineapple, mango or raspberries work well) and add to your water bottle for a burst of flavour.
- Set alerts/alarms on your phone or computer to remind yourself to stop for a glass of water.